These days, the cost of fuel is increasingly steadily each and every single day. It will not be too long before the cost of powering a home becomes one of the most expensive expenses for any family. As a result, more and more people today are experimenting with building solar panels on their own in order to offset their household’s annual utility bills.
If you are wondering how to build a solar panel, than you are in luck. The process itself is very simple and straight forward, however the skills needed are not necessarily the easiest to learn.
There are many tools that you are going to need in order to build your own solar panels. You will also need the right materials to complete the project.
Your first step when it comes to building a solar panel is determine how many watts your will be needing. You will also need to know what voltage output you will be needing. This is important as it determines the size of the final panel, the number of cells and their arrangement. Each individual cell only produces a finite amount of power and to get the energy you need to power your home, you are going to need hundreds if not thousands of cells.
Now that you have determined the size and layout of your panel, you will need to create a water-tight frame that will have a glass pane on one side and the cells on the other. While many people have been making their frames out of wood, if you are better at working with metal than it is suggested that you build a frame using aluminum angle bar.
Your clear pane of glass must somehow mount snugly to the frame. This has to be a water-tight seal as well. Preventing water from getting to the solar cells is important as both the bus bars and other electrical connections will oxidize and corrode. Over time, this oxidation and corrosion will reduce the efficiency of the panel.
Your cells will then be soldered together on the back side of the pane of glass and attached to the glass. Most people attach the individual cells to the glass using clear silicone sealant which is available at any hardware store. Some people simply apply a bead around the cells while others completely immerse the cells in a thinned down caulk solution.
Professionally manufactured solar panels usually feature a backing plate as the cells are very fragile. Chances are that you will break or chip a number of cells while you are assembling your very first panel. If you have decided to immerse your cells in a solution of silicone and toluene, then you might want to think about using a plate of aluminum as a backing plate as it will also double as a heat sink.
Making sure that each cell is firmly attached to the panel and that they are all sealed from contact with moisture is important as it prevents corrosion of the terminals. However, keeping the cells cool increases their efficiency. Solar cells heat up when they are in the sun and the hotter they get, the less efficient they are. This is the purpose of using a heat sink on the backside of the panel whenever it is possible.
While there are many great ways of building a solar panel on your own, not everyone has the skills necessary to complete the task from start to finish. For this reason, specially made kits have been developed which makes it easier to assemble your own solar panels. When compared to purchasing a commercially manufactured solar panel, choosing to build one or assemble one on your own is a great way to save even more money.
Your goal when building a solar panel is that it will last you at least 20 years with the most minimal of maintenance possible. This means that the cells need to be completely sealed from the environment and the glass is as durable as possible. While you may be tempted to use the thinnest pane of glass you can find, keep in mind that thin glass breaks all too easily.
In the end, if you are successful at building your own panels, you can save a bundle. With a commercial panel costing thousands of dollars and a homemade one costing only a few hundred dollars, the savings is clear.
Not to mention the fact that if you build a large enough array that you can afford to buy cells by the case, you can save even more money. Today, one can build their own solar panels for a lot less than a dollar per watt; which has been the all important cost barrier that has prevented solar technology from becoming more common. Home built panels these days cost less than half of a dollar per watt.